As a small business owner, recruitment is critical. Unlike larger businesses, which can handle and cope with an ill-performing member of staff, every penny counts in small firms and startups, and so hiring the wrong person for the job can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Perhaps you thought someone had the skills you needed, only for them to fall down when they got into the office, or maybe you’ve had a change of heart and there’s something not quite right about the person you’ve chosen. Whatever your reasons, it’s an awkward and uncomfortable feeling when you know you need to make a change – but how can you do it? Below, we’ve put together some top tips before you make any rash decisions.

Consult their contract

If your new employee has only just started, then the chances are that you’ll have a clause in their employment contract that ensures a minimum ‘probation period’. Make sure you look through the terms you both agreed when starting out and consult with your HR department or solicitor if you’re not sure. The last thing you want to do is end up in an employment tribunal, so understand your rights and your employee’s rights before making your move.

Let them go gently

If you’re confident that you can let your employee go without any repercussions, then sit them down in your office and explain your decision. People can react in very different ways, so try to judge the situation before you make any rash decisions, and be mindful that they might be angry or upset when you explain your reasoning. Offer them positives, too; if they were great in the kitchen but bad at being a team member, let them know, and offer them a reference and help looking for their next job. Be firm but fair, and they’ll understand in time.

Try to make it work

Alternatively, you could try to make it work with a member of staff, offering guidance and training to improve their performance. If you see potential in your hire but they’re not where you want them to be just yet, then you could set them up on a training and improvement program, offering incentives as they improve. However, you should also consider whether you’re choosing to make it work because you believe in them or because you feel obliged to – be firm; your business is important to you and there’s no room for dead weights!

Learn from your mistakes

Finally, learn from your mistakes and consider working with a specialist the next time you hire a member of staff. In the hospitality industry, for example, you can depend on a number of catering recruitment agencies who have the expertise needed to find the high-quality staff you need. Granted, you lose some of those personal touches when you use an agency to find your staff, but you can guarantee they’ll find only the most suitable of candidates.

Business is all about learning lessons, and unfortunately, almost every entrepreneur will have to fire a member of staff that isn’t up to scratch. Try not to take it personally and be sensible – your business wouldn’t be where it is today without hard work and a great team.